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 The original book thread 
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Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm
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just read "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett; it has just been made into a film, I think. It's a wonderful alternative take on "Gone With the Wind" - racism in the US south from the "colored" maid's point of view. I won't go into the story - definitely worth a read, and not all gloom, because of the humour and resilience of the women concerned


October 11th, 2011, 8:02 pm
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I should have added that "The Help" does make one think twice about eating chocolate cake! A case of Mississippi Mud Pie that is worse than mud....


October 14th, 2011, 8:06 am
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I'm currently wadeing through reading Jane Ayre. Although I'm vaugelt familiar with the plot, I don't think I've read it before because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have attempted it twice.

Charlotte Bronte sure didn't subscribe to George Orwell's rules for effective writing .

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October 14th, 2011, 10:32 pm
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I remember a not so good English teacher taking me to task on an essay I'd written about Jane Eyre. I was not in the slightest impressed by her running away and not eating anything for 24 hrs or so, and expecting the reader to feel sorry for her. The phrase 'she needed to wise up rather than flounce' was certainly there. I was told I had no soul. So be it.


October 14th, 2011, 11:00 pm
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getreal wrote:
I'm currently wadeing through reading Jane Ayre. Although I'm vaugelt familiar with the plot, I don't think I've read it before because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have attempted it twice.

Charlotte Bronte sure didn't subscribe to George Orwell's rules for effective writing .

I only read "Jane Eyre" for the first time about 6 months ago, and did actually find it moving (I got soul, Fia :laughter: ). But, it's true, all these books from way back feature a lot of what seems like stilted language and repetition, and of course they can't mention the "baser" aspects of life. One classic I really did find disappointing was "Wuthering Heights" by Charlotte's sister, Emily Bronte. Re the guide to writing, I would quibble about avoiding the phrases, even though they are cliches: maybe they have become popular for a reason, ie that it is hard to think of an alternative way of saying what you mean. Maybe that's a lead-in to a new thread: thinking up new phrases to replace old ones - eg putting the cart before the horse (given that we don't have many horses and carts anymore) could be ? er, any ideas? None from me, but it reminds me that I read the novel "Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys, years ago; it is a sort of prequel to "Jane Eyre" in which the madwoman Bella is the main character. So maybe "putting the Eyre before the Sargasso" could be a new way of saying "putting the cart before the horse"?


October 15th, 2011, 8:17 am
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I never really got into literature from the 19thC, though I enjoyed (the TV version of) Pride and Prejudice and a couple of other dramatisations of the genre.

But on the uni course we had to read Silas Marner. There are sentences in that longer than other writers' paragraphs. My memory is probably not correct but I think one of them lasted almost the whole page! I can only believe that this was to teach us how not to write.

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October 15th, 2011, 10:57 pm
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Dave B wrote:
I never really got into literature from the 19thC, though I enjoyed (the TV version of) Pride and Prejudice and a couple of other dramatisations of the genre.

But on the uni course we had to read Silas Marner. There are sentences in that longer than other writers' paragraphs. My memory is probably not correct but I think one of them lasted almost the whole page! I can only believe that this was to teach us how not to write.
agree - must check this up, ie why was "rolling rhetoric", which you get in the "nonfiction" of the period, eg philosophy, so different from the modern style? When did it change? I love George Eliot's books, eg "Middlemarch" (which features an obscurantist Bible scholar - husband of the main character and a proto-Theologica member!) tho' I have not yet read "Silas Marner"


October 16th, 2011, 8:19 am
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Silas Marner is 71p on Kindle!

Later: Just taken a "look inside" one edition and soon found a single sentence 26 page lines long. At the other extreme if the local paper who's house style is one sentence of 26 words per column paragraph!

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October 16th, 2011, 12:26 pm
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animist wrote:
just read "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett; it has just been made into a film, I think. It's a wonderful alternative take on "Gone With the Wind" - racism in the US south from the "colored" maid's point of view. I won't go into the story - definitely worth a read, and not all gloom, because of the humour and resilience of the women concerned


I,too, just recently read "The Help". Loved it. A great read.

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October 17th, 2011, 1:25 am
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Does anyone read C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series? I'm reading them at the moment, and they're great.

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October 17th, 2011, 1:43 am
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Loved The Help but did not like Shardlake. I hate xxxx scenes. which I cannot name for fear of spoiling the book for anyone who fancies it.


October 17th, 2011, 7:07 pm
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[Bugger, might have to read that book now just find out the nature of the the mysterious xxxx scene!]

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October 17th, 2011, 8:22 pm
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I will tell you in a pm if you want.


October 21st, 2011, 7:07 pm
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Thought the title rang a bell, it was an "Afternoon Play" on radio 4 some yonks ago. There was something about it that disturbed me, perhaps (or so it seemed to me) the acceptance of The Help to the attitudes of the white people ('cept for Minny maybe). Thanks for the offer, Val, I take a pass on that.

Actually was this any different than the attitude of middle class people up to the 50s, as portrayed in fiction at least, towards any person, cleaner, cook etc., working for them in this country?

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October 21st, 2011, 7:22 pm
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I have been listening to the "Book of the Week" (0945 R4) which is "The Etymologicon" by Mark Forsyth (and read by Hugh Dennis) and can recommend this really humorous look at the origin of some English words - the chapter entitled, "The Old and New Testicles" had me spluttering toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror. I will never look at an avocado quite the same again . . .

Nice find was that as a Kindle ebook it is only £1-99 instead of £6-58 (which is still a bargain).

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December 22nd, 2011, 2:35 pm
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Currently reading: Stranger from Abroad. It's about Hannah Arendt and her relationship with Martin Heidegger. Only about a 1/4 way through. I am enjoying it so far. Will try to remember to update this when finished. I tend to read non-fiction much more than fiction.

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January 1st, 2012, 10:30 pm
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I've just finished Marcus Brigstock' book "God collar" I must say he comes across (in the book) as a very wishy washy Atheist compared to what he says
here.
Shortish audio clip.

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January 1st, 2012, 11:07 pm
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Most of the reviews on Amazon aren't too impressed either....


January 2nd, 2012, 1:27 am
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Reading The Lady Tasting Tea by David Salsburg. It's not some novel about genteel ladies drinking afternoon tea on the lawn, but, essentially, the history of statistics. Not boring in the slightest!

One snippet...

R A Fisher (he virtually invented stats) worked at Rothamsted Agricultural Experimental Station early last century. He was given the task of wading through decades of poorly gathered measurements of crop varieties, grown with different nutrients and exposed to different weather. He invented the methods to analyse much of these data. He noticed that in 1876 that production decreased and became more rapid in 1880. It then picked up in 1894, but fell again in 1901. He discovered that the opposite happened to weed infestation. That sounds like a good causal relationship: more weeds; less crops.

However, he wondered what caused the weeds to fluctuate and tied it down to - you guessed it - the Education Act of 1876! Up till then, children were used in the fields to do the weeding. The 1876 Act made school compulsory, so many children were not available to weed. In 1880, penalties were imposed for non-attendance so the number of weeders fell again.

In 1894, the new master of a local girls boarding school believed that hard work was good for the girls...you can see where this is going...and he died in 1901 and was replaced by someone with different ideas!

Fisher also mapped out how to randomise so that other variables that might skew results would average out.

Fascinating stuff.

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January 12th, 2012, 3:53 pm
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I have seen some strange links, but that has to be close to the top of the list!

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January 12th, 2012, 6:22 pm
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